Food Trends Report | Functional Drinks, Exotic Protein Alternatives, Next Generation Cutlery, Grocerants, Salt Reduction...
In the spotlight
🧋Growing thirst for functional beverages
Often referred to as "industry killers" by the media, Millenials and Gen Z have struck again. The target? The soft drink market.
While the sober curious movement has boosted the market for non-alcoholic spirits, we are witnessing a proliferation of TikTok videos featuring waters infused with chlorophyll, hibiscus or even healing crystals. Air Up water, which relies on the sense of smell to create an aromatic effect, has seen the same viral success. Now, a new category is gaining momentum: functional drinks. According to Research and Markets, this market is expected to reach $173.23 billion by 2025 with a CAGR of 7 percent. And to do so, this segment can count on various avenues of innovation:
Beauty elixirs... or when nutricosmetics infuse drinks. Brands are multiplying in this niche, like Gldn Hour and its drinks made with marine collagen and aloe vera. Another example is Beauty & Go, whose slogan "Time to glow" sets the tone. Luminous skin? Anti-aging? There's a drink for every problem.
Zen spirit. If you are feeling stressed or a little sluggish, make room for "mood drinks". The offer is plethoric. Among the brands in the CBD-enriched segment, there are many American and British brands such as Naka, Dram Apothecary, Trip, Recess and Cann. France is not left behind with Chilled and Baga. Meanwhile, drinks based on adaptogens and nootropics continue to gain ground in the market: Droplet, Peak Moods, Heywell ... Even multiplying the virtuous ingredients, like the Web3 brand Leisure Project.
In the arms of Morpheus. In line with the rise of Night Food, soft drinks focused on sleep are gaining ground. If Ichill is a precursor with its drink based on melatonin, valerian root, rose hip and vitamin B, other brands such as Mude Sleep, Som Sleep or Good Night Drink with botanical extracts are following suit. Proof that the market is buoyant, Pepsi even launched its own variation last year with Driftwell, a water boosted by 200 grams of L-theanine, an amino acid present in green and black tea, as well as some mushrooms. Mention should also be made of Rhode from Kin Euphorics and its premium elixir made from rhodiola and gaba.
Happy Microbiota. It's no longer a secret: fermented drinks made from micro-organisms have the particularity of boosting the microbiota. If certain brands such as Olipop or Poppi are all the rage with young people, the offer does not stop there. Karma Kombucha, Captain Kombucha, Moon Juice Kombucha and Bulles d’Opale are all labels that specialize in kombucha or kefir-based recipes, while other players such as Gist rely on artichoke inulin to stand out. But exoticism is also a must with Mayawell and its probiotic drinks made from organic agave harvested by hand in Mexico or De La Calle and its fermented pineapple Tepache.
Clean energy. Until recently, energy drinks were often synonymous with Red Bull and the like. Now, the market is starting to change with healthier energy drinks. Let's mention the British PerfectTed, which presents itself as the first brand of 100 percent natural energy drinks, doped with matcha. In France, we can find similar versions such as Mana, organic and also certified 100 percent natural origin ingredients or Perrier’s Energize (Groupe Nestlé), the organic energy drink with caffeine extracted from green coffee and yerba mate.
Tackling specific health conditions. We told you about it last month: the result of research conducted at the Antidiabetic Food Center of the University of Lund, Good Idea is a naturally flavored sparkling water that contains amino acids, chromium and helps balance blood sugar when consumed before and during a meal. Other Than, for its part, has adapted the concept of wellness water to pregnant women with a formulation based on electrolytes, choline, vitamin B and theobromine.
What's next? The menu of beverages with multiple health claims seems to have a bright future ahead of it. Among the niches to watch out for are proposals that combine added values such as Superfrau, which is both a recovery drink thanks to the presence of electrolytes and vitamin B12 and a healthy drink for the microbiota. They are also upcycling, since the brand recovers the whey filtered during the fermentation of yoghurts and cheeses, a byproduct usually thrown away. Another growth area is functional effervescent tablets such as the flavored hydrating cubes from the Austrian brand Waterdrop or the Plink tablets. As for beverages tackling certain health conditions, we could see the development of offers dedicated to specific pathologies, oral and ocular health, etc.
🍴Next Generation Cutlery
Let's face it: in France, until the middle of the 17th century, people ate with their fingers. And if the fork had originally had two prongs, it became four during the revolutionary period and will be definitively imposed only in from the 19th century. If the format of this utensil has changed little in the last few centuries, this could well be about to change. Let's zoom in on how your cutlery is evolving.
Gone is the plastic, in is the edible cutlery. Adopted in March 2019, the European directive around single-use plastic went into effect last July. Since then, reusable bamboo cutlery seems to be in favor with the market. But another more sustainable alternative is emerging: edible cutlery, a market that is expected to reach $56.9 million by 2026, with a CAGR of 11.1 percent. Examples include IncrEDIBLE Eats, Koovee and Croc Fork , which stands out with its cutlery made from surplus and decommissioned fruits and vegetables. If we are still in its infancy with offers that often boil down to vanilla-flavored cookies or salted crackers in the shape of fork, spoon or knife, we can imagine a thousand variations that are more gourmet, more premium and/or more healthy. On the DIY side, molds and dedicated kitchen appliances will allow consumers to prepare their own edible cutlery for picnics and other outings…
Towards more sensory cutlery? A study conducted by Oxford researchers has shown that cutlery has a significant influence on the appreciation of the taste of our meals. “Our experience of food is multi-sensory," explains Professor Charles Spence. “It involves taste, consistency, smell and sight. Before we even put the food in our mouths, our brains have already made up their minds." Food seems sweeter when eaten with a small spoon, just as the senses are heightened with heavier cutlery. The subject has many chefs and designers fantasizing, including Jinhyun Jeon.: with Stimuli, she proposes synesthetic tableware designed around a ritual of five sensory stimulating dessert spoons. And she's not alone in the niche. In 2017, the Michel/Fabian studio had imagined Goûte, a finger-shaped spoon made of glass or wood. In 2021, on Instagram, the founder announced that the brand would soon be relaunched with a more developed manufacturing process.
🛒 Supermarkets: the new restaurants.
Appearing in the middle of the 90's, the "grocerant" is a concept that comes from the United States. The idea? To set up a restaurant in a grocery store or a supermarket. While the phenomenon has been observed for several years in select grocery stores such as Lafayette Maison or La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché ― which has no less than seven restaurants ― the phenomenon is growing beyond the premium segment and is becoming more experiential. Pop-ups, cooking classes, scenic tastings, events... Here is an overview.
Waitrose's "Supper Club" parties. For several years, the Waitrose supermarket chain has been using the social food platform WeFIFO, which, like Airbnb, connects Supper Club hosts, professional chefs and home cooks with guests looking for new culinary experiences. In concrete terms, Waitrose has developed workshops that cost between £45 and £65 in over 50 branches. Of course, everything is made with products available in store.
The Tesco Hot Cross Bun Café Experience. For Easter, the British supermarket created an experience centered around Hot Cross buns, typical buns flavored with spices, raisins and/or candied fruits. Brunch, tea time or a five-course gourmet dinner: an original series of events twisted with vegan Hot Cross Bangers and Smash, Hot Cross Scones, a Hot Cross Bun Steak Tartare or a Hot Cross bun Espresso Martini cocktail available in the coffee corners of its stores. This initiative is no coincidence, as sales of these specialties at Tesco have increased by +20 percent in 2021, while sales of its Finest Hot Cross bun range have climbed by +30 percent. This experiment will be extended to the shelves as the supermarket will start selling no less than 11 variants of this star pastry this year.
The Dom’s Kitchen Market. Launched just after the pandemic, this American chain — which recently raised $14.9 million — was designed to combine shopping, dining and home delivery. The first store was opened a few months ago in Chicago, and a second location will open soon. By integrating restaurants, cooking classes, tasting sessions and various home delivery options, Dom's Kitchen Market aims to adopt a hybrid approach enhanced by visual merchandising and Instagram-friendly lighting...
What’s next ? More experiential, more retailtainment, but also, more tech. In California, the Walmart stores recently called on the Blendid company to offer smoothies prepared... by robots. At a time when robots are now capable of making and delivering pasta dishes, pizzas, fries, ramen and other salads, the concept could progressively seduce supermarkets that are keen on diversification and new experiences. The same goes for ghost kitchens: last year, Walmart opened its very first virtual food court supervised by Ghost Kitchen Brands in its Rochester, New York, supermarket. Another area of development is in neighborhood grocery stores with the rise of models such as Le Zingam in Paris. Food services, tasting evenings, parcel delivery points, and even new "third places," a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in 1989 to designate places where people spend time between their home ("first" place) and their work ("second" place)... These spaces are playing an increasingly important role in community building and are a promising concept at a time when telecommuting, the four-day work week and flexible working hours are fuelling the quest for ad hoc work spaces.
🧂🙅♀️Salt is under siege!
While all eyes are on the overconsumption of sugar, the harms associated with excess salt also deserve close scrutiny. Equally problematic, it exposes us to various pathologies such as hypertension and increases the risk of strokes and heart disease, the two main causes of death in the world. Several studies have also shown that this overdose can lead to a decrease in immunity.
According to the WHO, 2.5 million deaths could be avoided each year if global salt consumption was reduced to the recommended level of less than five grams per day. The problem? Once you get used to a high-salt diet, it's hard to get rid of it. Especially since it is estimated that 15 percent of the salt consumed comes from the salt shaker, 5 to 10 percent from food in its natural state... and 75 to 80 percent from processed products. In other words, industrialists are in the crosshairs.
But things are slowly starting to move. In October 2021, in the USA, the FDA published new dietary recommendations and measures with the objective of reducing salt consumption by 12 percent over the next two and a half years. In France, during the last International Agricultural Show, a collective agreement involving all the players in the bakery industry was signed to reduce salt consumption by 30 percent by 2025.
This quest also allows for alternatives to be considered. A five-year study conducted in China — and which made waves in August 2021 with a peak of 61,600 Google searches for "salt alternative" — found that using a salt alternative would reduce rates of heart attack, stroke and death. Globally, the market for these alternatives is expected to reach $1.51 billion by 2025 at a compound annual growth rate of 7.82%.
Among the most widespread solutions, let's mention the potassium present in Pleniday's products or in La Baleine's Essentiel range, which replaces 50 percent of sodium with potassium, calcium and magnesium. Another alternative is vegetable and/or seed salt: here, sea salt is mixed with dried vegetables and other aromatic herbs. This is the case with the Herbamaren brand, Ciao le sel from Aromandise or gomasio made from ground sesame seeds. Mention should also be made of yeast extract, a natural aromatic ingredient that works like spices by enhancing flavors. A recent study showed that this ingredient could be a promising substitute for salt in crackers.
And food industrialists are innovating. Two years ago, Roquette, the world leader in plant-based ingredients, launched Nutralys L85M. This pea-based formula for B2B use makes it possible to produce meat substitutes with reduced salt content. For its part, the Korean start-up PhytoCo has devised a plant-based salt derived from samphire that has a 20 percent reduction in sodium content while being free of microplastics.
However, another major issue remains taste. So some startups have bypassed the problem by keeping the salt but modifying its form and content. Tate & Lyle has developed Soda-Lo, a patented technology that transforms sea salt crystals into free-flowing crystalline microspheres. Hollow and much smaller than ordinary salt, these microspheres retain the taste of salt while ensuring a reduction in sodium content of around 25-50 percent. This approach is similar to that of the startup MicroSalt, whose chips are made using a similar technique, although its main focus remains the B2B sale of its low-sodium salt.
And on a more unusual note, the food company Kirin has teamed up with scientists from Meiji University in Tokyo to create chopsticks that can give a salty taste to food thanks to a system of electrical impulses that stimulate the taste buds. According to the research paper, using these chopsticks could improve the perceived salty taste of low-sodium foods by 1.5 times
What’s next ? It is likely that we will enter an increasingly multisensory era rich in new proposals and new players. We will also have to count on a hi-tech offer like SpoonTEK, a new kind of spoon that uses an ionic technology combining electrical and sensory stimulation on the tongue. Or the chopsticks (which could be made available to other types of cutlery as stated in the study) we mentioned earlier, capable of giving a salty taste to food thanks to a system of electrical impulses. Make room in your drawers!
🗑️💡Less waste, more ideas?
According to data published by the United Nations Environment Programme, one third of the food produced worldwide is wasted. The result: 1.3 billion foodstuffs lost each year for a financial loss estimated at 940 billion dollars. In addition to this observation, there is a significant environmental problem since up to 10 percent of greenhouse gases come from uneaten food.
In short, it is high time to take the problem seriously. And it is clear that thanks to processes such as upcycling — which consists of giving a new life to used objects or products — several solutions are emerging.
Repurposed food. Canadian start-up Outcast Foods is rescuing fruits and vegetables because they are irregular or surplus from farmers, grocers and manufacturers and recycles them into pet food, protein powder and dietary supplements. FancyPants Bakery is focusing on a line of cookies made from okara — the pulp rejected during the extraction of plant milks — or coffee cherry — the seed coat. At RealGood Stuff, the pulp of fruit and vegetable juices is transformed into ice cream or dog treats.
Cross-sectoral reuses. Surplus or waste food also finds a new life in industries other than its preferred sector. Among the examples, the Spanish start-up Lleig has developed a range of skincare products from "ugly" fruit. On the fashion side, the American company Circular Systems — which has raised $9.1 million — produces textile fibers from banana, pineapple and other fruit residues, an approach favored by a whole new generation of designers. As for decoration, the Japanese restaurant Vrå in Gothenburg has called on designer Carolinda Härdh to design furniture made from rice starch, fish bones and oyster shells.
An alternative to plastic. "Food waste is pretty much a concentration of carbons, very similar to crude oil (...) We thought with today’s technology, we can convert the carbon from food waste as a really low-cost feedstock into high-value chemicals and materials," Luna Yu, CEO of Genecis, tells Fast Company. So the company is using bacteria to turn food waste into a polymer that can be used as an alternative to plastic packaging.
A source of energy. Mauna Loa sells macadamia nuts that it processes from start to finish. The brand burns the husks, shells and waste from these nuts to produce the energy needed for its Hilo processing plant. This renewable biofuel accounts for more than half of the plant's electricity consumption. Another example is Carvey engineering student Ehren Maigue, who developed the startup AuREUS — winner of the James Dyson Sustainability Award in 2020 — which makes solar panels derived from fruit and vegetable waste. His feat? Generating up to 50 percent of energy consumption, compared to 15-22 percent for standard solar panels. And what about whiskey-powered vehicles? It's all in the works.
What's next? Although initiatives are multiplying, most of them are still in their infancy and must demonstrate their adaptability to the market. Moreover, we still deplore the absence of a strict regulatory framework that could encourage the use of these technologies on the margins to become mainstream. The next step is therefore consolidation and democratization. In this sense, we can imagine many things: awareness courses to acclimatize manufacturers to the possibilities of their waste, marketplaces to connect food manufacturers and providers specializing in upcycling, etc.. All these partnerships could also become a vector of new storytelling.
🦁🧬Alternative proteins: a more exotic approach?
According to a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group and Blue Horizon, alternative proteins are expected to account for 11% percent of the global protein market by 2035. And while eating habits are changing, this is not a given. As proof: in France, the Baromètre de la consommation responsable de RelevanC pour LSA, (organic, local, bulk, anti-waste, plant proteins) shows a decline in the average number of buyers in these segments in 2021, despite a third quarter increase. Lack of communication? Insufficient awareness campaigns? Is the consumer tired of alternatives that are often perceived as pale copies of classic meats?
In any case, some players have decided to explore new avenues to mark their territory. First of all, let's mention the Australian start-up Vow. Its focus is on the exotic. The company relies on cellular agriculture to expand its range of meats and conquer new consumers. In concrete terms, Vow has put together a panel of cells from rare, endangered or extinct animals, then cultivates them in the laboratory. "We're not limited to the sensory attributes of traditional farmed animals. We asked ourselves how to create rich food experiences across all animals, from water buffalo to crocodiles to kangaroos and more," explains co-founder Tim Noakesmith. If the approach seems may be surprising, you should know that it is not the only company to do so, since the American start-up Primeval Foods is positioning itself in the same segment by offering lion, elephant and or tiger steaks. Conscious of the stakes involved in raising awareness, the firm has announced that it plans to organize tastings in New York and London, while making eyes at the chefs, while several Michelin-starred restaurants would have already shown their interest in including these imitation meats in their menus. Mention should also be made of the Hong Kong start-up Avant Meats, which is developing cultured fish meat, in particular the swim bladders of certain endangered species (editor's note: organs that allow fish to float), popular in China’s food scene, such as the highly sought-after totoaba, which is trafficked illegally.
What should we retain? If today these processes are intended to give a new consideration to animal proteins, it is likely that to emerge, these alternatives must differentiate themselves via new recipes and new narratives. "To have a significant and sustainable impact for animals, we need to make foods that carnivores will crave, not vegans. That should be the goal of any startup that gets into alternative proteins," said Yilmaz Bora, managing partner of Ace Ventures, the venture studio that created Primeval Foods, in an article for Vegconomist. Visionary?
Short stories from the bar counter.
Vivatech & the food of tomorrow. Chefclub will be present at Vivatech on June 18th. With the starred chef Sylvain Sendra, we will present our concept of the future of food!
This month's curiosities. On the bar side, we present Portobello Road’s vodka distilled from asparagus and Probicient’s probiotic-enriched beer, billed by its founder as the "Yakult for adults." Glamour award for the French brand Biscuits et Botanique with its brownies, meringues, and cookies made with edible flowers, reminiscent of Lizookies shortbread. Still in the artistic register, mention for Noshi Food Paint which allows the little ones to create masterpieces at the table. Finally, we say no to bland baby food thanks to the brand Sienna Friends and its mix of spices for babies six months and older.
Tropicana : buzz made in France. In August 2021, Tropicana was bought by the French investment fund PAI Partners, which acquired 61 percent of the shares of PepsiCo, which had owned the fruit juice brand since 1998. Since then, the brand has been competing with initiatives as audacious as they are viral. The first one: a well-felt stunt last November with a game allowing players to win... an orange-flavored toothpaste intended to bypass the unpleasant taste of a minty toothpaste used after consuming fruit juice. Building on this success, the brand has just launched a limited edition Tropical Crunch cereal collection, specially designed to be mixed with orange juice. An idea born from a real consumer insight, as Tropicana has a survey showing that 15 million Americans would pour orange juice instead of milk on their cereal. And why not?
Fighting junk food in the cinema. Did you know? In France, Mieux Manger au ciné has set itself the goal of "rethinking the culinary offer in cinemas and other cultural venues." The association recently launched a contest in which people were asked to propose — or invent — products that they would like to enjoy in front of a big screen, based on four criteria: original products adapted to the cinema, gourmet offerings that are good for health and the planet, compositions without controversial ingredients and anti-waste recipes. The Salty Prize went to Breizh Pop’s popcorn with cider vinegar and seaweed. The Sweet Prize was awarded to Elsy Food and its puffed balls with coral lentils and brown rice coated with chocolate. Bienfaits’ iced infusions were awarded the Drink Prize, while Verger Perdu's fruit and barley malt-based sorbets won the Ice Prize. Other prize-winners were Nanigiri’s onigiris and the Kignon from the Biscuiterie Handi-gaspi made by disabled people from unsold organic bread.
Food & beauty: mixing genres. If beauty is starting to make its way into our kitchens, the opposite — that is, our plates ending up in our toiletry bag — is also true as the "food grade beauty" phenomenon gains ground. Let's mention the superfood beauty brand Loli, which, even in its packaging, imitates a juice bottle or a yogurt pot. Or the skintrition brand Joos Cosmetics, whose bottles look like those of fresh juices and other vitamin shots. And it's not all about the look, since the manufacturing processes mimic healthy juices by using a cold treatment method that allows for extracts, phytonutrients and other botanical substances. When will we see a multi-purpose product that you can enjoy AND apply to your skin?
Is the workplace canteen dead? That's the opinion of Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company, a food service provider behind concepts such as ethnically diverse food and free corporate meals, in an interview with Time. According to him, companies need to offer new experiences to their employees. To support his thesis, he cites several examples such as Ford, which has developed a patio where employees can relax around a barbecue and an online meal ordering service, or JPMorgan Chase & Co., who opened a state-of-the-art food court at its new headquarters. Or in Microsoft's U.S. headquarters, where ephemeral food trucks offer free fried chicken and Korean barbecue-style meats.
Novel Foods. According to EU regulations, any food that has not been consumed significantly in Europe before May 1997 is considered a novel food. Since 2018, it is Efsa, the European Food Safety Authority, that authorizes the marketing of these foods in each EU member state. This list, which is enriched a little more each year, can be consulted online. Among the novelties of 2022, let's mention the authorization to market cascara — the pulp of coffee cherries dried and then infused — mung bean protein or pasteurized akkermansia muciniphila, a bacterium that is part of a healthy intestinal flora and could be present in our daily life in the form of supplements and other add-ons.
Co-fermented wines are making a splash. As reported by Sunset, co-fermentation, which involves fermenting grapes and other fruits in the same tank, is gaining momentum. Winemakers have been experimenting with apple and grape co-fermentations, resulting in a sort of wine-cider hybrid that could become a star barbeque drink. To be continued.